First floating wind farm in the world begins generating power

October 18, 2017 by  
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Five massive wind turbines floating in the sea near Scotland have started sending energy to the grid. Statoil , a Norwegian power company, has been working on the 30 megawatt Hywind Scotland project for several years, and it’s now up and running. The wind farm can power around 20,000 homes. Hywind Scotland is around 15 miles from Peterhead in Aberdeenshire. As the farm’s wind turbines are floating , they can be placed in waters far deeper than those of conventional offshore wind farms. The Hywind Scotland turbines are in water depths of as much as 129 meters, or 423 feet – offshore wind turbines that are attached to the seabed are typically in depths of up to 50 meters, or 164 feet. Related: The world’s largest floating wind farm is planned for the California coast That figure is important because according to Statoil, 80 percent of potential offshore wind locations have water depths greater than 60 meters. And they think their floating turbines could work in even deeper waters than those of Hywind Scotland. Statoil New Energy Solutions executive vice president Irene Rummelhoff said in a statement, “Hywind can be used for water depths up to 800 meters, thus opening up areas that so far have been inaccessible for offshore wind. The learnings from Hywind Scotland will pave the way for new global market opportunities for floating offshore wind energy .” From blade tip to the surface of the sea, the wind turbines are 175 meters, or around 574 feet, large. Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the project puts the country “at the forefront of this global race and positions Scotland as a world center for energy innovation.” Statoil and project partner Masdar are also working on an one megawatt-hour (MWh) battery storage project, called Batwind, that will store clean power generated from Hywind Scotland. Rummelhoff said Statoil plans to keep working on lowering costs of power from the wind farm, down to €40 to €60 per MWh by 2030. Via the BBC and Statoil Images via Øyvind Gravås/Woldcam/Statoil and Øyvind Gravås/Statoil

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First floating wind farm in the world begins generating power

Former coal miners receive training for renewable energy jobs

October 3, 2017 by  
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Over half of the United States’ electricity came from coal in 2000. That figure has plummeted to around one third in 2016, and thousands of coal workers have lost their jobs . But former fossil fuel workers have skills that could translate well to jobs like installing solar panels or working on wind turbines . Other programs teaching former miners computer coding and beekeeping are also aiding the transition away from fossil fuels to a greener future. Coal miners once found roles in West Virginia and Wyoming , and now alternative energy training programs in those states offer new hope. For example, there’s Solar Holler in West Virginia, whose goal, according to their website, is to revitalize Appalachian communities with solar power . They’re working with Coalfield Development to train people to become solar panel installers. Coalfield Development is also rehabilitating buildings and starting an agriculture program, including transforming an old mine area into a solar-powered fish farm, according to The New York Times. Related: The wind turbine manufacturer putting unemployed coal miners to work Or there’s Goldwind Americas , a wind turbine manufacturer offering a training program for coal miners that started earlier this year in Wyoming . The miners could help construct a massive wind farm , and the company will employ up to 200 workers to maintain the farm after it’s built. Appalachian Headwaters is another organization providing an alternative for former coal miners. They’re turning an old camp into an apiary, with the goal of helping coal workers and veterans get a start in the honey business. Next year, they’ll give around 150 hives to 35 workers either for free or with a no- or low-interest loan. Solar Holler founder Dan Conant said diversification is important in the area – the solar program so far only trains 10 workers a year. There are challenges in the transition to a clean energy future, but for now, programs like the ones above offer new training and roles for unemployed miners. Via The New York Times and Axios Images via Bureau of Land Management on Flickr and Coalfield Development Corporation Facebook

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Former coal miners receive training for renewable energy jobs

German company steps in to help Puerto Rico with microgrid installations

October 3, 2017 by  
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As Puerto Rico assesses the full extent of hurricane damage and continues its long, challenging road to recovery, energy companies from around the world, such as Sonnen GmbH of Germany, are stepping in to assist. Sonnen is planning to install energy-storage systems known as microgrids at fifteen or more emergency relief centers in the American island territory. “Our smart energy storage system is uniquely positioned to serve as a critical resource during the emergency in Puerto Rico,” said Blake Richetta, the head of Sonnen’s U.S. unit. Sonnen’s systems were first delivered last week, with more arriving weekly as ports reopen. Pura Energia, a Puerto Rican solar installer, is working in collaboration with Sonnen to deliver the necessary systems and restore local power. The total knockout of Puerto Rico’s energy infrastructure, which could remain inoperable for months, has made microgrids (often paired with solar panels to restore power to essential buildings), particularly vital as Puerto Ricans struggle to secure basic needs. As Sonnen installs its microgrids on emergency relief centers, it expects local consumers to seek out their own microgrid systems. Profits from these sales will be donated to build additional microgrids throughout Puerto Rico. Related: Tesla is shipping hundreds of Powerwall battery systems to Puerto Rico Since 2016, Sonnen has installed over 20 storage systems, the most recent of which have been produced at its new factory in Atlanta . The first microgrids on Puerto Rico are expected to begin operation next month. In its support for the American Commonwealth, the company is clear in its broader mission to change the world. “It is our duty to stand firmly with the people of Puerto Rico and do everything possible to help start the rebuilding process,” said Sonnen CEO Christoph Ostermann. “There is a clear connection between our mission to support humanity during a climate disaster and our mission to fight climate change .” Via Bloomberg Images via Pew Charitable Trusts and Sonnen

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Shipping-container development designed for Los Angeles’ homeless population

October 3, 2017 by  
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A Los Angeles neighborhood will soon be home to a new shipping container development created for individuals transitioning out of homelessness. Designed by KTGY Architecture + Planning , the Hope on Alvarado project will repurpose several, locally-sourced shipping containers as the building’s main construction material, hopefully creating an urban design model for affordable housing in densely-packed cities around the globe. Slated for a .44-acre site at 166 Alvarado Street in L.A.’s Westlake Neighborhood, the proposed design will offer 84 units made up of studio and one bedroom apartments for tenants that are in the process of getting off the streets. Multiple shipping containers , which will be sourced locally in Los Angeles, will be stacked together to create a single, four-story building centered around a courtyard. The strategic layout is geared to providing new residents with privacy and security, as well as fostering a strong sense of community. Related: London’s Marston Court transforms shipping containers into emergency housing for the homeless The individual apartments will be created by modifying the containers into units of 400-480 square feet. Doors and portions of the containers’ metal skin will be removed to be replaced with floor-to-ceiling windows, along with various interior fixtures and finishes. The development will also house the tenant support-services office on the street-level. Parking will be provided as well as ample bike-storage. Although still in the development stage, the Hope on Alvarado project will hopefully be the first in a series of Hope developments in the Los Angeles area. Both the architects and the developer, Aedis Real Estate Group , plan to continue building more shipping container developments in other cities in an attempt to create a model for sustainable, affordable housing options . + KTGY Architecture + Planning Images via KTGY Architecture + Planning

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Shipping-container development designed for Los Angeles’ homeless population

Tesla and Vestas team up to combine batteries and wind turbines

September 1, 2017 by  
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Two of the world’s leading renewable energy giants are teaming up to work towards a sustainable energy future. Vestas , the world’s largest wind turbine manufacturer, is working on a global program to combine wind power with batteries , and they’ve turned to none other than Tesla for help. Vestas aims to add energy storage to wind farms for days when the wind doesn’t blow, so they started a global program centering around about 10 projects. Tesla isn’t the only company to receive a call from the wind turbine manufacturer, which will work with other battery makers to determine how to best store wind power. Related: World’s most powerful wind turbine breaks 24-hour record for energy generation Vestas announced at their general meeting in April that they wanted to focus on energy storage, and Denmark’s Borsen publication reported the collaboration with Tesla. Chairman Bert Nordberg said the company wants a new competitive edge after surging past General Electric Company to claim the largest market share of wind energy in America. Meanwhile, Tesla has been looking for new ways to utilize their batteries beyond electric cars and Powerwalls . Their battery units have been popping up in grid-scale installations such as this one in Southern California , and Elon Musk signed a deal in July with the government in South Australia to build a massive energy storage facility to help combat their power woes. Vestas has been tinkering with the idea of integrating battery storage with wind turbines since 2012, when they launched a test project in Lem-Kaer, Denmark. They said they plan to commission other such projects around the world. In a Friday statement, the company said, “Across a number of projects, Vestas is working with different energy storage technologies with specialized companies, including Tesla, to explore and test how wind turbines and energy storage can work together in sustainable energy solutions that can lower the cost of energy.” Via Bloomberg Images courtesy of Vestas Wind Systems A/S and via Ernesto Sanchez/Edison International

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Dubai’s crazy rotating wind-powered skyscraper is actually being built

February 21, 2017 by  
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The modern world is full of unique, eye-catching buildings – but an upcoming Dubai skyscraper is about to put a new spin on the field of architecture. We’ve reported before on Israeli-Italian architect David Fisher ‘s crazy rotating Dynamic Tower – and now it looks like the 1,375-foot-tall high-rise is finally becoming a reality. Solar panels will be installed on the roof, and 48 individual wind turbines will be hidden in between the floors to provide power. According to the architect, the building will generate up to 10 times more energy than it will use. Proposed by Fisher almost a full decade ago, the project was supposed to break ground in 2010, but was put on hold due to planning obstructions and design changes. Now, seven year later, it looks like the project has finally been given the green light. https://youtu.be/jEYZ-ylelbg The Dynamic Tower will have 80 floors that are capable of rotating a full 360 degrees, letting tenants and hotel guests select their own personal views via voice command. However, even more impressive than the unique twisting feature is the project’s sustainability profile – the entire building will be powered by sun and wind energy. The apartments will offer the ultimate in luxury living – at a staggering price tag of 30 million dollars. The “beyond star rating” building will offer swimming pools, garden space, a fitness center, and even a car lift that transports cars outside individual residences. + David Fisher Via Mirror Images via David Fisher/Dynamic Architecture

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Dubai’s crazy rotating wind-powered skyscraper is actually being built

Wind power could supply 20% of global electricity by 2030

October 19, 2016 by  
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Although solar power gets more press, the wind power industry is growing nearly as fast . The (GWEC) released an historic report Tuesday in Beijing, saying 20 percent of the world’s total electricity could come from wind by as early as 2030 . With last year’s Paris climate deal as a strong motivating factor, the group predicts the world’s total wind power capacity could grow by nearly five times over the next 14 years, reaching as much as 2,110 gigawatts (GW) by 2030. The GWEC report outlines that, although not cheap, the long-term benefits of wind power infrastructure will begin paying off immediately. The GWEC estimates an annual investment of $224 billion would be required globally in order to grow the wind power industry to its potential capacity. Meanwhile, 2,110GW of clean, renewable wind energy would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 3.6 billion tons each year. Related: 5 Things the Paris climate deal must do to slow global warming China has been an unlikely leader in the wind power industry, boosting its capacity by 17 percent last year over 2014 figures for a total of 433GW. Chinese leaders still plan to add 60GW before the end of this year. Despite the increased capacity, China is still struggling to create ways to utilize that renewable energy efficiently. In July, China’s energy regulator said 21 percent of all wind-generated electricity was wasted in the first half of this year, due in large part to new coal-fired power plants which make it more difficult for wind power to reach the grid. Chinese leaders did pledge earlier in the year to shutter 1,000 coal mines , which many took as a sign of the beginning of the end of fossil fuel use there, but the battle between coal and wind rages on. China, and many other places on the planet, will have to improve their grid infrastructure in order to take full advantage of plentiful wind energy. The energy regulator said that more than 40 percent of the wasted power occurred in regions of China that are already underserved by the grid, clearly illustrating how the failure is on the part of the infrastructure and not the nearly infinite potential of renewable energy . While government leaders can work to reduce reliance on fossil fuels in finite supply, they must also work to improve the infrastructure that allows residents to reap the benefits of the wind. Via Reuters Images via Pixabay , Bill Badzo/Flickr and Wendell/Flickr

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Tiny two-pound Micro Wind Turbine folds up just like an umbrella

September 21, 2016 by  
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While scaled-up renewable energy plants can generate a great deal of energy , there’s a huge demand for smaller devices in off-grid, remote, or harsh locations. Designer Nils Ferber created a Micro Wind Turbine that works as well on a blustery mountaintop as it does in a backyard garden, and can charge smartphones via a USB port on the turbine . Weighing around two pounds, the Micro Wind Turbine folds up like an umbrella and can be easily transported. https://vimeo.com/174336941 Ferber’s Micro Wind Turbine unfolds along a telescopic shaft, popping out into a tiny turbine that ” produces a constant output of five watts at a windspeed of 18 kilometers per hour .” An “integrated battery pack” with a 24 watt-hour capacity can store the energy, or users can charge a device directly through a USB port right on the turbine. The blades are made of sturdy fabric and can capture wind energy blowing from any direction. Related: Insane Screwdriver-Powered EX Vehicle Rockets You Headfirst Through the Streets The Micro Wind Turbine works where solar panels tend to struggle, such as cloudy locations where sunlight is infrequent or at night. It’s designed for outdoor explorers, filmmakers, climbers, scientists, and even rescue workers who adventure or labor in extreme locations where there’s not as much easy access to power. Its slight frame won’t add much to the gear or equipment a person is already packing; at around two pounds it is ” 40 percent lighter than the closest competitor ,” according to Ferber. He tested the Micro Wind Turbine in the Swiss Alps, demonstrating its effectiveness in very windy weather. While the initial Micro Wind Turbine works for just one person, Ferber says the turbine is “easily scaleable.” According to his James Dyson Award page , he is searching for partners to develop the wind turbine into a marketable product. + Nils Ferber Via Treehugger Images via Christian Holweck , Jagoda Wisniewska , and Nils Ferber

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Tiny two-pound Micro Wind Turbine folds up just like an umbrella

ENR2 is the largest project in Arizona to earn a LEED Platinum certification

September 21, 2016 by  
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The 151,000-square-foot ENR2 building is an addition to the UA campus with three other LEED-certified buildings – the Student Recreation Center expansion, the Árbol de la Vida Residence Hall and Likins Hall. It houses interactive and shared learning spaces, boosting productivity and collaboration. Related: University of Arizona’s Breakthrough Telescope Solar Panel Doubles Efficiency Thanks to an efficient water usage and rainwater harvesting system , the building reduced the amount of water used annually by 40 percent. It can capture up to 260,000 gallons of rainwater each year. A underground storage and filtration tank provides water for irrigation . Related: The Hestia Project Maps the Carbon Emissions of US Cities Down to Street Level “The LEED platinum certification for ENR2 is great news for those of us who teach or research on the environment because it shows that we try to practice what we preach in terms of workplace sustainability,” said Diana Liverman, co-director of the UA’s Institute of the Environment. + The University of Arizona Via UA News Photos by Liam Frederick

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ENR2 is the largest project in Arizona to earn a LEED Platinum certification

Unique meditation pavilion in the Netherlands generates its own mist

September 21, 2016 by  
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The Meditation Pavilion and Garden were designed to cultivate a tranquil atmosphere and harness the calming potential of water. The enclosed volume spreads from bank to bank and draws the water inside to blur the line between the interior and exterior space. It houses changing rooms and a bathroom at the west end, and a summer kitchen and storage at the opposite side. Related: Tiny Meditation Pavilion Sits Ever-So-Quietly Amidst Vermont’s Green Mountains The steel-framed structure features movable partitions that slide to open and close the middle part of the pavilion. Most of the exterior is defined by vertical ash wood slats that make the volume seem permeable. Skylights add natural light to the interior and partly illuminate the water. + GMAA – GM Architectes Associés Via Dezeen

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